28-point Wildcat barrage buries Cowboys

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McMINNVILLE,Ore.-  Quarterback Mickey Inns passed for 309 yards and four touchdowns, and tailback Josh Hill piled up 195 all-purpose yards to lead the fifth-ranked Linfield Wildcats past the Hardin-Simmons Cowboys 49-35 in a non-conference game Saturday at Maxwell Field.

Tied at 21 at intermission, the Wildcats went on a 28-0 run to send the Cowboys home with a loss.

Linfield (2-0) rolled up 563 yards on the visitors from Abilene, Texas, but surrendered 503 yards to the winless Cowboys (0-2). Five different Wildcats caught touchdown passes and two quarterbacks threw for scores in the game.

Linfield marched 14 plays to the HSU 8-yard line after the opening kickoff, but came away empty when a short field-goal attempt by Josh Kay was blocked by Ben Hartley.

Josh Yoder broke the ice for the 'Cats, free-lancing his way into the end zone from the HSU 6 early in the first quarter to give Linfield an early 7-0 cushion. Hardin-Simmons struggled to move the ball but took advantage of good field position after an interception by Inns at the Linfield 41. HSU tailback Tevin Mitchell eventually dove over from the 1, knotting the score at 7 with just seconds remaining in the first quarter. Hill gained 82 of his game-high 149 rushing yards in the opening quarter.

Inns then marched Linfield 11 plays into scoring position, capping the go-ahead drive with a 4-yard pass to tight end Westly Meng. The Cowboys answered right back when quarterback Logan Turner connected with Trei Lewis on a 50-yard pass play deep into Linfield territory, setting up Turner's 2-yard TD toss to Glenn Arsenio.

After another failed field goal attempt, HSU drove 71 yards to take its only lead. Lewis snared a 12-yard pass from Turner and the Cowboys led 21-14 with 2:30 left in the half. Inns and the Wildcats tied the game a little more than a minute later as Hill took a screen pass 31 yards into the end zone with 1:07 left in the half.

Linfield outgained Hardin-Simmons 308-247 during the opening two quarters. But the Cowboys were efficient in the red zone, coming away with a touchdown all three times they visited.

Coming out of the locker room, Linfield served up its own key special teams play to get the crowd back into the game. The Wildcats blocked a 38-yard field goal attempt by Scott Newberry, and after a HSU punt, went on a five-play, 73-yard march that was capped by Yoder's 1-yard sneak. Moments later, rover Mike Nardoni pounced on a fumble by Turner and after one play, wideout Charlie Poppen was celebrating a 31-yard touchdown from Inns that gave the 'Cats a 35-21 advantage. Linfield added yet another touchdown pass in the quarter two minutes later. Lucas Jepsen and Inns combined for a 17-yard TD to push the Wildcats in front 42-21 with a 1:09 left in the third.

Linfield completed its 28-point scoring tear with a 4-yard TD catch by David Sigler from Yoder with just over 12 minutes to play. The Cowboys added a pair of touchdown passes over the final 9:44 but they came too late to catch the Wildcats, who extended their home winning streak to 21 games.

Poppen enjoyed a career-best performance, pulling in 10 balls for 147 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown late in the third quarter that put the Wildcats up by two scores. Yoder, used primarily in short-yardage situations, ran for two short touchdowns and passed for another score. John Shaffer also rushed for 46 yards on four carries, part of a 242-yard rushing day for the Wildcats.

Defensively, Kyle Wright paved the way with 12 total tackles, including three unassisted. Linebackers Tyler Robitaille had 11 stops and Dominque Forrest contributed nine.

Mitchell finished with a game-high 162 yards rushing. Turner passed for 353 yards, completing 29-of-53 attempts.

'CAT SCRATCH: Saturday's attendance was 1,733. . . the home team has won all five games in the series. . . Hill had 99 yards rushing in the first half . . the Cowboys were whistled 11 times for 95 yards in penalties. . . Nardoni, making his second start, was credited with five tackles, including a sack and a fumble recovery. . . cornerback Colin Forman corralled a 21-yard interception to go with three tackles. . . five of Kay's eight kickoffs sailed out of the back of the end zone for touchbacks. . . Inns completed 26 of 41 passes with one interception and one sack. . . a special re-dedication of the newly remodeled Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame took place prior to the game, drawing a number of Hall of Famers to campus.

COMING UP: Linfield travels south to play 12th-ranked Cal Lutheran next Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Live radio play-by-play coverage will start at noon on KPDQ-AM 800 in Portland and KLYC-AM 1260 in McMinnville. . . live streaming audio coverage is also available at linfield.edu/sports.